Monthly Musings – April 2, 2017

Analysis of “Joy Spring”

This is a great jazz standard by Clifford Brown. It is an AABA form but the unusual thing about it is that the second A section is in the key a ½ step higher than the first, the key of Gb major. This is a less frequent key for most jazz musicians and can be troublesome. It is actually a fairly comfortable key on piano because of all the black notes that fall under the fingers.

First A section – progression:

//Fma7 /Gmi7 C7 /Fma7 /Bbmi7 Eb7 / Ami7 D7 /Gmi7 C7 /Fma7 /Abmi7 Db7 //

The first three measures are in the key of F major and can be accommodated with an F major scale. The interesting feature of the A sections is the 4th measure that includes a II-V progression in the key up a minor 3rd. It’s kind of like a change of mode from F major to F minor. So the main interest here is the change of key. When you play a tune that changes key frequently for short periods of time, just making the key clear is interesting enough. It isn’t necessary to alter any chords.

The next three bars are a III-VI-II-V-I turnaround to get back home to F major and can be satisfied with the major scale of the key. However, we often like to play an altered dominant VI chord to create a stronger resolution to the II chord. The last bar is a II-V progression to modulate into the key of Gb. A Gb major scale is adequate.

 Second A section – progression:

 //Gbma7 /Abmi7 Db7 /Gbma7 /Bmi7 E7 /Bbmi7 Eb7 /Abmi7 Db7 /Gbma7 /Ami7 D7 /

Same as the first A section a ½ step higher: Gb major scale for three bars, A major for one bar, Gb major for three bars. The last measure is a II-V into the bridge and can just be a  G major scale.

 B section – progression:

 //Gma7 /Gmi7 C7 /Fma7 /Fmi7 Bb7 /Ebma7 /Ab-7 Db7 /Gbma7 /Gmi7 C7 //

Including the last measure of the second A section, the bridge is just a series of II-V-I progressions in G major, F major, Eb major and Gb major. The last measure is a II-V to return to the main key of F major.

The bridge can be played very nicely using only four major scales, G, F, Eb and Gb. The simplest and purest way of playing a II-V-I in a major key is to play in the major scale of the I chord in whatever key you are in. Of course, you could use a number of different dominant 7th scales on the V chords of those keys.

The last A section is like the first except the last measure ends with a II-V in F major.

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